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Google Downplays Extent of Work With Huawei in Letter to Senators

Google sought to distance itself from Huawei in a letter sent to U.S. senators in response to their queries about the U.S. company’s work on a smart speaker with the controversial Chinese tech giant.

In an Aug. 30 letter to senators Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton, which was reviewed by The Information, Google said it had been approached by Huawei about a smart speaker using Google Assistant but didn’t enter into a partnership with the Chinese company.

“Any characterization of those interactions as an ongoing collaboration with Huawei to build smart speakers is inaccurate,” Google said in the letter.

Huawei employees familiar with the matter told The Information that the speaker project with Google had been making progress but was halted in May due to the U.S. government’s sanctions against Huawei. Before May, Huawei engineers in China worked on resolving technical issues to make sure the speaker would meet Google’s requirements for devices powered by Google Assistant, they said. 

The senators sent a list of questions to Google in August, after The Information reported in late July that Huawei and Google had been working together on the Chinese company’s project to launch a new Huawei-branded smart speaker powered by Google Assistant. But the project was suspended in May because of President Donald Trump’s decision to limit Huawei’s access to U.S. technology suppliers including Google, the people said. 

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